Ski Lifts Strikes in French Ski Resorts Have Little Impact

The two strikes held so far have had little impact and threats of further ones in February will likely be the same, if they take place at all. Some sections of the media have been accused of scaremongering.

As predicted the strike by French lift operators on Tuesday January 31st was not widely observed and the lifts turned as normal in most French ski areas.

On Tuesday morning PlanetSKI heard from the Morzine tourist office.

“There is no planned strike for today,” said the Tourist Office to us.

Lifts were set to run as normal, and they did.

PlanetSKI editor, James Cove, was in Les Arcs in the Paradiski area of the French Alps.

And here are some of the lifts spinning across the Les Arcs ski area on Tuesday.

“If anyone has gone on strike this morning then they have been very discreet about it,” said Andy Sturt from VIP SKI.

“We haven’t noticed any closures in any of our resorts across the Alps with lifts working fine,” he added.

PlanetSKI’s Chief Reporter Jane Peel has just arrived in Vaujany in Isere.

“Apparently there is no problem with strikes here,” Jane said.

“Although I haven’t been on the slopes skiing yet, I took the Montfrais gondola up for a sunset snowshoe trek and it was working as usual. I am told there is no disruption in the resort.”

Montfrais gondola, Vaujany, France. Image © PlanetSKI

Here at PlanetSKI we have been told by sources that some resorts got rather misled by union representatives.

The resorts decided to close some lifts preventatively and then staff turned up for work as normal in the morning.

They ended up not working and having time to go in the village to demonstrate, but they got paid –  unlike those on strike.

Most resorts and operators are now assessing the extent of the strike action and believe things will be normal across February.

Many French holidaymakers are not worried for February.

However it appears to be different with UK skiers who have been concerned after coverage in parts of the mainstream UK media.

One major operator to France told us that it had had many enquiries from customers who had already booked a holiday, worried about the situation.

Some even asked if all the lifts will be closed in France for the whole of February.

It seems much of the language and positioning by the unions is just part of the negotiating process.

Here at PlanetSKI we advise people going on holiday to France in February not to panic, but keep informed in case the situation changes.

If anything people should worry about long, queues rather than lifts not working.

Here is the Arcabulle chairlift at Arc 2000, mid-morning on Tuesday:

Tuesday’s action was part of a national day of action in France which caused disruption across the country.

The dispute is over pension reforms and changes to benefits for seasonal workers, which particularly affects ski industry workers.

The two main unions covering lift and seasonal workers announced “unlimited” strike action across February.

Many French resorts and UK tour operators that take people to France says the likely impact of the strikes on the ski lifts will be minimal and most people won’t even notice.

So it proved on Tuesday.

Les Arcs, France. Image © PlanetSKI

Les Arcs, France. Image © PlanetSKI

“A similar strike took place on 19th January with no consequences on our ski area opening, with no impact for our clients skiing on this day,” said a statement issued by Les Arcs last week.

“We can ensure that we will do our best to minimise again the impact on our customers.”

There has been much coverage in the British press of the potential threat to half-term ski holidays, with some calling the reporting ‘sensalitionist’ and ‘purely clickbait’.

“We deplore the negative and stressfull messages delivered by the media,” said the statement from Les Arcs.

There was limited reaction to the January 19th industrial action in Les3Vallees.

The director of Les 3 Vallees, Olivier Desaulty, said that the strike was followed by a small number of  lift operators.

He said it had not impacted on skiers and snowboarders in the largest linked ski area in the world.

Olivier Desaulty, Les3Vallees. Image © PlanetSKI

Olivier Desaulty, Les3Vallees. Image © PlanetSKI

PlanetSKI has had earlier reaction from Morzine as the possible strikes were announced.

“It’s obviously very concerning to have the threat of strike action, but we are not expecting this to be an issue in Morzine, or the rest of the Portes du Soleil,” said Sara Burdon from the local tourist office.

“We are working closely with all ski area workers and within the Haute Savoie very few are in the unions that have declared the strike.

“Currently there are no strike plans here that have been declared for the 31st January, or throughout February, and we do not expect there to be.

“We will continue to work closely with all colleagues to try to ensure we can avoid any issues.

We do not expect this strike action to have any discernible effect on client holidays in the Portes du Soleil,” Sara Burdon.

Sara Burdon, Morzine Tourist Office. Image © PlanetSKI

Sara Burdon, Morzine Tourist Office. Image © PlanetSKI

UK tour operators have also offered reaction predicting a limited impact.

“There will of course be demonstrators all over France including in ski resorts on 31st January,” said Xavier Schouller from Peak Retreats.
“It’s a national day of demonstration against the French Government pension reform.
“Demonstration does not mean meaningful disruption to lift operation however.
“I was at Grand Ski workshop last week and spoke face to face to more than a dozen ski company directors  including all the big ones and not one of them expect the slightest disruption in February,” Xavier added.

“We’re aware of potential ski lift operator strike action during February,” said a statement from Crystal Ski to PlanetSKI.

“We’re working with our partners in our resorts to understand the impact so we can help mitigate disruption where possible.

“We will be liaising with customers who are travelling to France during this time directly to keep them updated,” the statement continued.

Ski lifts, La Clusaz, France. Image © PlanetSKI

Ski lifts, La Clusaz, France. Image © PlanetSKI

“We have decided to call for a strike during the February holidays because demands are listened to more during this period,” said Eric Becker, head of the lift operators’ branch of the Force Ouvrière union.

He said in a statement that lifts would operate normally on February 1st, and that the aim was not “to weaken companies that are already in difficulty”.

“We want to be heard and have our problems – those that impact seasonal workers – listened to,” he added.

Half-term in the UK is split over two weeks, from February 11th to 25th.

In France it goes across most of February.

La Clusaz, France. Image © PlanetSKI

La Clusaz, France. Image © PlanetSKI

Les Arcs, France. Image © PlanetSKI

Les Arcs, France. Image © PlanetSKI